HHS Awards $56.9 Million to Eliminate Health Disparities
The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) has awarded a total of $56.9 million to support research in health disparities among racial and ethnic minority and medically underserved communities. The NCMHD, which was established to support and assess NIH research efforts in reducing and eliminating health disparities, has awarded more than 600 individuals nationally for training in health professions, conducting health disparities research, building research capacity, and advancing outreach efforts. Distribution of the $56.9 million was as follows: $15.9 million to four institutions under the Research Endowment Program for research on health disparities; $12 million to 25 institutions under the Community-Based Participatory Research Program; $10.7 million to 244 qualified health professionals under the Loan Repayment Program, which provides loan repayment in exchange for two years of service in clinical or health disparities research; $8 million to five academic institutions under the Centers of Excellence in Partnerships for Community Outreach, Research on Health Disparities and Training Program; $5.4 million to 24 institutions under the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Program; $3.8 million to five minority-serving institutions under the Research Infrastructure in Minority Institutions Program; and $1.1 million to six small business concerns under the Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer program. For more information and for a full list of recipients, visit http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/jan2006/ncmhd-09.htm.
FDA and AHRQ Collaborate to Strengthen Research and Communication
A collaborative effort between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) was launched in January to establish research partnerships between the agencies on drug effectiveness and safety. The FDA’s Deputy Director of the Office of Drug Safety, Dr. Anne Trontell, will spend one year as a senior advisor in pharmaceutical outcomes research in the AHRQ’s Center for Outcomes and Evidence. It is hoped that the collaboration will improve FDA understanding of health outcomes associated with marketed drugs and so improve the quality of information released to the public. In her AHRQ position, Dr. Trontell will promote collaborative drug safety and effectiveness research conducted by the FDA, the AHRQ, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and academic and professional organizations. She will also participate in effectiveness and risk communication research and outreach conducted by the new AHRQ Effective Health Care Program, which compares treatment alternatives and widely communicates its findings. For more information about the Effective Health Care Program, visit its Web site at http://www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov.
AAFP Board Releases List of Desired Retail Health Clinic Attributes
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Board of Directors has released a list of desired attributes for retail health clinics. The list is intended to help chapters and members decide whether to work with local retail health clinics and to aid communication between physicians and patients using the clinics. The attributes outlined by the AAFP Board include a well-defined and limited scope of clinical services; evidence-based and quality-improvement–oriented clinical services and treatment plans; formal connections with community practices to provide continuity of care; referral systems for when patients’ symptoms fall outside the clinic’s scope; and use of electronic health records that can communicate with family physicians’ offices. Retail clinics first appeared in 2004 and there are currently 89 clinics operating around the United States. The companies responsible for the clinics have announced plans to open hundreds more by 2008. For more information, go to the AAFP Web site at https://www.aafp.org/x40967.xml.
Fogarty Center Awards $6.5 Million to Drug Discovery Research Projects
The Fogarty International Center, part of the NIH, announced awards to support two projects aiming to identify new compounds from organisms found in under-explored environments such as coral reefs. The awards—part of the Fogarty’s International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups program, which funds international, public-private, interdisciplinary research teams—will provide the projects $6.5 million over four years. One project, led by Dr. Mark Hay of Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, will study marine bacteria and coral reef plants and invertebrates to find potential treatments for cancer, malaria, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), tuberculosis, and other bacterial pathogens. The second project, led by Dr. Jon Clardy of Harvard University, Boston, Mass., will study Costa Rican organisms such as marine and soil bacteria to find potential treatments for many disorders, including infectious and neurodegenerative diseases and several types of cancer. Both projects will use state-of-the-art approaches combined with the ethical sharing of benefits among partners, according to Biodiversity Program Director Dr. Joshua Rosenthal. Five other projects are also being supported by the program. For more information, see the program Web page at http://www.fic.nih.gov/programs/icbg.html.
Texas and Appalachian Research Centers Join Clinical Trials Network
The NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) announced in January that two new Clinical Trials Network affiliates have been established in Texas and the Appalachian area. The Texas Node comprises the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and 11 community treatment providers across the state, and the Appalachian Tri-State Node includes a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center research group and five community treatment providers in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Research conducted through the Clinical Trials Network tests drug addiction treatments in real-life settings using diverse patient populations. Fifteen nodes have previously been established since the Network’s introduction, with more than 100 community-based treatment programs in operation throughout the United States. For more information, visit the NIDA Web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov or the NIH Web site at http://www.nih.gov.
AAFP Appoints Task Forces for Health Coverage and Emergency Medicine
Following recommendations approved at the 2005 AAFP Congress, AAFP Board Chair Mary Frank, M.D., Mill Valley, Calif., appointed task forces to address the issues of health care coverage for all and of family physicians in emergency medicine. Dr. Frank will chair the health care coverage task force, which will have its first meeting in February, while the task force on family physicians in emergency medicine will be chaired by AAFP President Larry Fields, M.D., Ashland, Ky. Approximately 2.5 percent of family physicians provide full-time emergency medical care, and more than one half of family physicians report providing at least some emergency medical services. For more information, visit the AAFP Web site at https://www.aafp.org/x40967.xml.
ASCP Approves International Certification for Laboratory Professionals
The American Society for Clinical Pathology’s (ASCP’s) Board of Registry has approved a new category of certification for the first time since its formation in 1928. ASCP certification is widely considered a benchmark for laboratory professional credentials. The new category, ASCP-I, was created in response to requests from laboratory professionals in countries other than the United States who want to be sure that their training programs and practices meet U.S. standards. The new certification will not replace the U.S.-designed ASCP certification for foreign nationals who seek work in a U.S. laboratory. More information, registration, and practice examinations are available online at http://www.ascp.org/bor/international.